Philadelphia University: The role of presidential leadership in market adaptation and evolution of mission

James C Garvey, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

This is a case study of the role of presidential leadership in market adaptation and evolution of mission at one higher education institution-Philadelphia University. The time frame studied is 1984 to 2006, which represents the entire tenure of President James Gallagher. This institution was selected for study because of the dramatic change and institutional turnaround that has occurred there over the past 22 years. The focus of this study is the impact of the university's leadership, specifically the president, on this transformation process. The central questions addressed are: what was the role of the president in the change process and how did the president influence strategic planning and change; what key market forces have impacted the institution since 1984; how did mission evolve over this time period; and what were the sources of resistance to institutional mission transformation and how were they mediated? The case study employs a qualitative format and includes interviews with the leadership of the institution: president, vice presidents, key members the faculty and staff, and trustees. A thorough review of historical documents and media coverage was conducted. Financial, admissions, and accreditation data, as well as self-studies and strategic planning documents, also inform this study. The study found the university was struggling financially in 1984 due to declining enrollment that resulted from an outdated mission and an unpopular curriculum. The new president, James Gallagher, was largely responsible for the turnaround of the institution through his own interpretation and execution of the presidential role. He introduced a heightened sense of entrepreneurism in order to speed the school's reaction to external market forces. To create a more dynamic institution, the president built an exclusionary management system that placed the presidency atop the power structure. Resistance to change in institutional mission was met by the president with a combination of strategies, each designed to isolate and remove dissenting voices while recruiting new talent to the faculty, administration, and trustee board.

Subject Area

School administration|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Garvey, James C, "Philadelphia University: The role of presidential leadership in market adaptation and evolution of mission" (2007). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3255875.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3255875

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